Data Management and Communication

How to make Sustainable Visualizations of the Past. An EPOCH Common Infrastructure Tool for Interpretation Management

by Daniel Pletinckx


Current technology allows us to create 3D models of landscapes and man-made structures ever more easily, and to visualise these models in both interactive and non-interactive ways. In the 1980s, the idea arose at IBM to use this technology, which had been developed for designing and visualizing structures that still had to be built, also for visualization of structures that have not survived. Although there is no fundamental technological difference between visualizing structures that still need to be built and structures that have existed, there is a major methodological difference because our knowledge of the past is partial and uncertain. In fact, we are not able to reconstruct the past at all. Even for the recent past, we lack a lot of information fully to reconstruct structures that have disappeared. We can try to puzzle together all the information we have about a certain structure in a certain time period, and try to visualize this incomplete and uncertain information in the best possible way. This text explains the methodology for doing this in a robust and reproducible way. In fact, archaeological and historical researchers have been using similar methods already for a long time, but this methodology has not yet been implemented for 3D visualization, except for some pioneering efforts.
This paper explains and illustrates methods such as source assessment, source correlation and hypothesis trees that help to structure and document the transformation process from source material to 3D visualization. It also discusses the different approaches of 3D visualization in research and in public presentations, and presents a conceptual tool to assist in managing the interpretation process. The main objective of this paper is to propose a methodology and conceptual tool for making open, sustainable 3D visualizations of the past, thus turning computer-based visualization into an instrument that is accepted in both the research and public presentation domain. This conceptual tool is part of the EPOCH Common Infrastructure that provides concrete solutions for common problems in the cultural heritage domain.

The book includes a case study of the Saint Saviour Church in Ename, Belgium.

The order of illustrations below follows the book (please note the distinction between figures and plates).

Verona today and around 1000.

Plate 17.1 View of Verona from St Peter’s hill (top). The Roman bridge is visible on the right. Photo © Jacopo Prisco. Iconogaphia Ratheriana (bottom) depicting Verona around 1000.

Verona by Hartmann Schedel (1493)

Figure 17.1 View of the city of Verona by the cartographer Hartmann Schedel (1493).

St Laurence's, Ename (1596)

Figure 17.2 St Laurence church in Ename in 1596. An image in a pilgrim vane.

St Laurence Church in Ename (1596)

Figure 17.3 St Laurence Church in Ename in 1596. Illustration in a trial document.

Ename in 1596

Figure 17.4 Ename in 1596. View of the centre of the village from a recently discovered map.

Two drawings and 3D visualization of Ename (1593-96)

Plate 17.2 Source correlation between two drawings of Ename (top). Proposed 3D visualization of Ename between 1593 and 1596 (bottom).

Wijnendale castle

Plate 17.3 Drawing of 1612 showing Wijnendale castle in ruins (top) and a 3D visualization of the castle as it might have looked in 1530.

Excavation plan of St Saviour's in Ename.

Plate 17.4 Excavation plan of the church of St Saviour in Ename.

Visualizations of St Saviour's in Ename

Figure 17.5 Different visualizations from 1987 to 1998 of the church of St Saviour in Ename.

Building phases of St Saviour's in Ename

Plate 17.5 Different building phases of the church St Saviour Church in Ename: 1020, 1065, 1070 and 1100.

Reliability of the visualization of the Horst castle

Plate 17.6 Reliability of the visualization of the sixteenth-century phase of the Horst castle, Belgium: red = low, orange = medium, green = high; after Peter Sterckx.

Visualization of the Ename abbey c. 1070

Plate 17.7 Scholarly visualization of the Ename abbey around 1070 (top) and its reliability (red = low, green = high).

Visualization of the Ename abbey c. 1070 for public display

Plate 17.8 Visualization of the Ename abbey around 1070 created for public display.

Visualization of the Valkenburg watchtower

Plate 17.9 Three-dimensional visualization of Roman watchtower in Valkenburg, The Netherlands (bottom). Alternative visualization with equal probability (top) of which the design on the left is chosen as representative.

Goudsberg, Valkenburg in Roman times and today

Plate 17.10 Panoramic, 360 degree visualization of Roman landscape of Goudsberg, Valkenburg (top) and a photographic panorama of current landscape (bottom).

4D presentation of St Saviour's in Ename

Plate 17.11 Part of an interactive, 4D presentation of the St Saviour church in Ename in 1020, 1065, 1070 and 1100.

Source annotation

Figure 17.6 Iconographic source annotated with transcription and translation of the medieval text.

Wijnendale castle by Sanderus (1641)

Figure 17.7 Bird’s eye view of Wijnendale castle by Sanderus (1641). Numbers indicate features matching with Figure 17.8.

Cadastral plan of Wijnendale castle

Figure 17.8 Cadastral plan of Wijnendale castle. Numbers indicate features matching with Figure 17.7.

Argumentation network after Wittur

Figure 17.9 Argumentation network after Joyce Wittur, 2007.

Figure 17.10 Viel Rentier, Royal Library of Belgium, Brussels, MS 1175, f°8r° [not reproduced here]

[Figure 17.11 in the book is same as Plate 17.4 reproduced above, Excavation plan of the church of St Saviour in Ename.]

Excavations at Ename.

Plate 17.12 Excavations at Ename.

Visualization of St Saviour's in Ename (1020-1065-1070-1100)

Figure 17.12 Computer visualization of the St Saviour church in Ename; phases 1020-1065-1070-1100.

One Response to 17

  1. Pingback: Paradata and Transparency in Virtual Heritage | PARADATA

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